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Carine Roitfeld Leaving French Vogue

Godfrey Deeny
December 17th, 2010 @ 10:28 AM - Paris

Carine Roitfeld has resigned her position as editor-in-chief of French Vogue after a decade in the job and in the wake of a scandal involving her parallel consulting career as a consultant and stylist.

Roitfeld’s departure will take effect in “a few weeks,” according to a Friday lunchtime release from the French division of Conde Nast International; the foreign wing of the New York-based magazine empire.

In the statement, Conde Nast International CEO Jonathan Newhouse insisted that, ”It is impossible to overstate Carine’s powerful contribution to Vogue and to the fields of fashion and magazine publishing. Under her direction, Vogue Paris received record levels of circulation and advertising and editorial success.”

Roitfeld made no comment in the release and the timing of the announcement, on what is effectively the last working Friday in the year, has led to much speculation that she may have been fired rather than quit.

Back in March, Roitfeld and the entire staff of French Vogue were banned from attending the runway show of Balenciaga, the most acclaimed fashion forward label in the Gucci Group, the Paris-based luxury conglomerate. Balenciaga’s designer Nicolas Ghesquiere was reportedly incensed when a coat he lent to French Vogue for a shoot was returned to his office not from the magazine, but from a Turkish manufacturing plant used by Max Mara, the classic Italian label which Roitfeld advised as a consultant.

Two Conde Nast France staffers have informed FWD that after the Balenciaga banishment, Newhouse was forced to have a face-to-face meeting to placate Francois Henri Pinault, Gucci Croup CEO and scion of the family that controls the conglomerate, the second largest in the luxury industry. There are four pages of ads by Gucci Group companies, from Gucci itself and Yves Saint Laurent, in the December/January issue of French Vogue, effectively Roitfeld’s swansong.

That issue was co-edited by Tom Ford; the former creative director of the Gucci Group who has been persona non grata at that group ever since the Pinaults unceremoniously fired him after they took control of the conglomerate at the turn of the century. No clothes from Gucci Group brands are photographed in the well of this issue. There is further speculation that Roitfeld may take a position with the fledgling fashion house of Tom Ford, whose debut women’s collection, shown to a tiny audience in September, received essentially polite reviews. Earlier in her career, Roitfeld was the key stylist and sounding of board of Ford while he was at Gucci.

A strikingly elegant woman, Roitfeld has been one of the most influential figures in modern fashion. A champion of edgier, darker designers like Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann, Ricardo Tisci and Martin Margiela, to name just a few, she led a massive aesthetic wave of darker, sexier more boudoir-driven dressing that, nonetheless, always managed to maintain a sense of class and chic exclusion. Her magazine was highly regarded and admired, and such was her influence, panache and charm that she was many times mooted as the likely successor to the great Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief American Vogue, and basis of the best-selling novel and film, The Devil Wears Prada.

Quite possibly, Roitfeld could earn a good deal more as a freelance stylist or consultant if she were independent of French Vogue, a magazine with one tenth the circulation of American Vogue, and one fifth the ad page rate. During her tenure as editor-in-chief she or her staffers were understood to have styled or consulted to many fashion houses, including Givenchy, Balmain and Isabel Marrant.

Wherever she ends up, her departure has been well timed, following an October masked ball to celebrate the magazine’s 90th anniversary, chronicled over 10 pages in the latest issue, which somewhat mysteriously contains no photo of the departing editor.

Paris has already been flooded with names of potential successors. The three most prominent to emerge are Emanuelle Alt, French Vogue's current fashion director and a notable style icon, Anne Sophie Van Claer, the elegantly brainy editor from Le Figaro, and Virgine Mouzat, novelist and super chic fashion critic of the same Paris daily.

“Roitfeld has decided to concentrate on personal projects. She wants to concentrate on a number of projects close to her heart.... Roitfeld's replacement will be announced in the coming weeks,” continued the Conde Nast release, underling that the departure was her decision.

That may well have been the case, but it would make her the first woman in living memory to have chosen to quit the job as editor-in-chief of any Vogue, still regarded as the plumiest job in fashion media. Period.


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